Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 546

The ad boom

15 July 2011 / Issue 546

How to profit from it


  • Protecting your wealth against stagflation
  • France: the real threat to the eurozone
  • The woman Murdoch sees as a daughter


The EU: a road to nowhere

Did you know that there was a single road stretching from the west coat of Ireland to St Petersburg? I’m guessing you didn’t. And that, of course, is because while this road has a name – the E20 – it doesn’t exist outside the imagination of a group of European bureaucrats. In their minds it is part of an “international E-roads network” covering 2,000 miles of eurozone soil. In reality it is an administrative construct plonked on top of a network of national roads. And some sea: at three points a sea crossing is required and at one of those points (from Kingston upon Hull to Esbjerg) there are no vehicle-carrying vessels available.

When the route crosses land, it is rarely called the E20. Instead it is Ireland’s M7 and N7; England’s A5080, and A63; and Russia’s M11, among others. The same goes for most other E roads. There is the E32, which is actually Britain’s A120, the E30, which runs from Cork to Omsk, but is a mismatch of everything from Ireland’s N25, our A40 and A14, Poland’s A2 and Russia’s M51; and many more. If you have a spare hour you might amuse yourself by looking them up and mulling over the madness of the people who mapped them.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: The EU: a road to nowhere